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Track heads to NAU, then hosts outdoor meet

February 17, 2010

The Arizona State University track and field team will send athletes to a pair of meets this weekend, including one indoors and one outdoors, as the Sun Devils will compete in the NAU Tune-up on Friday before hosting the Diablo Relays on Saturday in Tempe. The NAU meet will be the final competition indoors for the Sun Devils before heading to the MPSF Indoor Championships next weekend in Seattle, Wash., while the Relays is an all-comers meet open to any one that would like to compete at Sun Angel Stadium on the ASU campus.

Meet info: Diablo relays
The Diablo Relays will be held on Saturday with the first events starting at 9 a.m. (discus) in the field and 9:30 p.m. (running) on the track. Entries will be $5 per person for this all-comers event which will be held at Sun Angel Stadium on campus.

Meet info: NAU Tune-up
The NAU Tune-up will be a smaller meet than the previous weeks inside the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff with athletes from Arizona State, Arizona and host Northern Arizona slated to compete, along with numerous unattached athletes, including former Sun Devils like Sarah Stevens and Jessica Pressley. The field events begin Friday at 4:30 p.m. while the running events start at 6:20 p.m.

Nationally known
The U.S. Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its latest national rankings on Tuesday with the Sun Devil men moving up one position while the women remained unranked. The men, who were No. 7 last week, rose two places to No. 5.

Watching Whitting
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Thursday the 10 male collegiate track & field athletes named to the official preseason watch list for the 2010 awarding of The Bowerman as selected by The Bowerman Men’s Watch Committee with returning NCAA champion Ryan Whiting earning a spot on that list. The defending champion in both the indoor and outdoor shot put, Whiting is entering his senior year and is on the watch list for an award that will be given to the top male and top female collegiate track & field athlete at the end of the season. (

On the world charts
Two current Sun Devils have marks that not only automatically qualify them for the NCAA Indoor Championships, but also ranks them highly among all competitors in the world. According to the latest world list, Ryan Whiting leads the way as his toss of 21.52m recorded last week in Arkansas is the third-best mark recorded in the shot put in the world this year. His fellow throwing teammate, Jason Lewis, currently stands 11th in the world in the weight throw with a toss of 21.92m. Four former Sun Devils also are on the world lists, including Trevell Quinely (11th, long jump, 7.99m) for the men and women's competitors Amy Hastings (13th, 3000m run, 8:58.45), Desiree Davila (16th, 3000m run, 9:00.73) and Sarah Stevens (11th, shot put, 17.75m).

National rep
Last weekend, the USATF Cross Country Championships were held in Spokane, Wash., where former Sun Devil Amy Hastings finished third overall in the women's open race with a time of 26:06. By placing in the Top 7, Hastings qualified to represent the U.S. at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on March 28 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Take three
On the current national descending order lists, the Sun Devil men have a handful of individuals ranked among the Top 15 nationally with three men holding that distinction in the same event as Ryan Whiting, Jason Lewis and Jordan Clarke are all ranked highly in the shot put. Whiting is the current national leader at 21.52m (70-03.00) while Lewis stands ninth with a mark of 18.87m (61-1.00) and Clarke, a redshirt freshman, is 14th at 18.54m (60-10.00).

One of two
The shot put trio currently makes Arizona State one of just two schools to have three men provisionally qualified in the event with Texas being the other. The distinction that the Sun Devil men hold is that all three of their qualifiers currently hold marks in the Top 16, which is the customary cut-off number for qualifiers to the national indoor meet (Top 16). ASU's athletes stand first, ninth and 14th while Texas is sixth, 10th and 18th.

Record run
Over the weekend, several distance runners traveled north to Seattle to compete in the Husky Classic with one time recorded standing out among the others. In the invitational section of the men's 3,000m run, senior Brandon Bethke ran the sixth-fastest time in the nation this year as he clocked in at 7:54.27 to finish sixth overall in the race. His time also broke the 19 year-old school record that Todd Lewis established in 1991 when he ran 7:54.31, just 0.04 seconds slower than Bethke's time.

Youth showing
Looking at the national provisional qualifying list for the women's long jump, there are only two freshmen on the list so far this season with both competing for the Sun Devils. Currently, Constance Ezugha stands 13th overall nationally with her mark of 6.26m that she recorded last weekend while fellow rookie Christabel Nettey standing 23rd at 6.20m. The duo also ranks among the best in school history as the rank eighth and ninth, respectively.

Speedy Devil
At the NAU Team Challenge (Feb. 5), Jasmine Chaney entered the 400m dash and blazed a huge personal best indoor mark as she won the event with a time of 53.89 to earn provisional qualifying status for the NCAA Indoor Championships. A national qualifier in the hurdle events outdoors, Chaney recorded the sixth-best time in school history with her run.

In January at the NCAA convention in Atlanta, former Sun Devil standout Sarah Stevens was presented with the NCAA Top VIII Award, which is one of the highest honors handed out each year by the Association. Awarded for excellence in the classroom, in competition and in the community, the Top VIII recognized eight individual student-athletes from all divisions of NCAA governance. Just the second Sun Devil to earn the distinction, Stevens was a two-time NCAA champion and earned the most All-America honors in program history with 15 total, including five during her senior season.

Trice's provisional
At the season-opening meet - the Friday Night Challenge - the Sun Devils turned in several strong performances, but perhaps none better than Lawrence Trice in the 60m dash as the senior won the race with a time of 6.66 (converted to 6.70 for altitude). His time, which he has since equalled in another meet in Flagstaff, also ranks as the fourth-fastest in school history and is the first mark added to the ASU list since Seth Amoo clocked in at 6.72 in 2005.

Returning champions
A pair of Sun Devil men are back for their seniors seasons with both carrying the distinction of defending national champion after winning a throwing event last year. Ryan Whiting returns and will look to become a three-time champion in the indoor shot put after winning the past two titles while also adding the 2009 outdoor crown to give him a sweep of the event last year. Also returning is Jason Lewis, who hit a personal-best and school-record mark of 75-00.75 last year to win the weight throw for his first title and All-America honor.

More on Whitting
With a victory in the shot put at the 2010 NCAA Championships, Whiting would become just the third man to win the shot put three years in a row and the first since Hans Hogland (UTEP) did so in 1973-1974-1975. He also would become only the fourth to win the event three or more times in a career and first to do so since Michael Carter (SMU) won crowns in 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984.

More on Lewis
Lewis not only will look to defend his national title this year, but also continue a recent streak of success in the event that was started in 2005. That year, Spyridon Jullien (Virginia Tech) won the title and then again in 2006. Following that, Egor Agafonov (Kansas) won the next two titles in a row (2007, 2008) before Lewis won last year.

Returning All-Americans: men
Last year, three men earned All-America honors from the USTFCCCA, including both returning national champions and one true freshman. Jason Lewis collected the first honors of his career by winning the weight throw and taking fourth in the shot put while Whiting added another All-America honor by winning the shot put. Lewis (discus & hammer) and Whiting (shot put & discus) also earned a pair of accolades during the outdoor season. Rookie Mason McHenry ran in the 800m event and earned All-America honors as well.

More All-Americans: men
Four other men also return that have earned All-America honors in recent years, including Brandon Bethke, who earned national honors at the 2009 NCAA outdoor meet in the 5,000m run before taking seventh overall this past fall at the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The three other returning All-Americans earned their honors during the 2008 season: Nectaly Barbosa was an All-American outdoors in the 800m and on the indoor distance medley relay team; Justin Kremer was a member of two indoor All-American relays, including the 4x400m and the DMR; and Joel Phillip earned honors in the indoor and outdoor 400m dash along with the indoor 4x400m relay.

Returning All-Americans: women
Five women earned All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships one year ago with just one athlete, Dominique' Maloy, returning this season. Maloy was a member of the 4x400m relay team that finished second in the nation. She also was a member of the All-American 4x100m and 4x400m relays outdoors while adding an individual honor in the outdoor 200m dash.

More All-Americans: women
Three women return this year that earned All-America honors during the 2009 outdoor season, including two that were freshmen. Jasmine Chaney is back after helping the 4x100m and 4x400m relays to All-America status last year while Kayla Sanchez, a member of that same 4x100m relay, also is back. In the field Cj Navarro is back after placing eighth in the discus in her first national meet appearance last spring. Two distance runners also return this winter after earning All-America honors in cross country during their careers, including 2007 honoree Ali Kielty and 2008 honoree Kari Hardt.

Back for more
Speaking of returning, head coach Greg Kraft is back to lead the way for the 14th year in a row and will look to guide the Sun Devils back to the top of the podium at the NCAA Championships as his squads did in 2007 (women's indoor and women's outdoor) and 2008 (men's and women's indoor). Since taking over the program in 1996, Kraft has built Arizona State into one of the top all-around programs in the nation. Among the coaches that have led the program, his tenure with the Sun Devil men is surpassed only by the 17 years of service legendary coach Senon 'Baldy' Castillo put in (1954-79 and 1985) while his 14 years leading the women's program is the longest in ASU history (Anne Pittman, 1958-67).

Hello, my names is...
This year's roster features over 90 student-athletes with several newcomers joining the program. The Sun Devils have added 29 newcomers this season, including 16 women and 13 men while 24 women return and 41 men return from last year.

New to staff
The coaching staff also has two newcomers this year with the additions of Ronnie Williams and Isley Gonzalez. Williams was brought in to work with the men's sprinters while Gonzalez helped with the cross country team and will continue on during the track and field season with the mid-distance/distance runners as the program's graduate assistant.

Recap: Cross country 2009
The cross country team wrapped-up its 2009 season in November as the Sun Devils competed in the NCAA Championships, placing 19th in the men's standings and 24th in the women's. The women advanced to their 12th-consecutive national meet (the third-longest active streak) and were led by Allie Kieffer, who was 49th overall and just nine places from All-America honors. On the men's side, the program's fifth national appearance was led by Brandon Bethke, who finished seventh in the men's 10,000m race, earning All-America honors while finishing the highest of any ASU man in program history. Both teams opened the championship season by finishing third at the Pac-10 Championships before the women took fourth and the men tied for fifth at the NCAA West Region Championships.

Next time out
A pair of championship events will await the Sun Devils next weekend as many of the program's athletes will travel to Seattle for the 2010 MPSF Indoor Championships while several individuals with ties to the program will compete at the USATF Indoor Nationals in Albuquerque.